What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that affects skin cells. Healthy cells are mistakenly attacked by the immune system and can begin to regenerate at up to 10 times the normal rate. New skin cells usually grow deep in the skin and slowly work their way up and out. Eventually they age and fall off. The average life cycle of a healthy skin cell is about one month. When this process accelerates, the skin begins to patch up. The affected areas will become red and develop flaky white patches from the excess dry skin. This can happen anywhere, but usually appears around the elbows, scalp, knees, and lower back.
Psoriasis is fairly common among adults, and can develop as people mature. Like many autoimmune disorders, the cause of psoriasis is unclear. For some reason, white blood cells in the body begin to attack healthy skin cells. This case of mistaken identity sets the cells in motion. There is some evidence that the predisposition to this disorder may be genetically inherited. In other words, your chances of developing psoriasis increase if one of your immediate relatives has it. However, this appears to be true for only a small proportion of people with the disorder. It is also associated with other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression and heart disease
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
Symptoms may vary depending on the type of psoriasis, the severity of the condition, and the person who is affected. Psoriasis symptoms may also occur in cycles. They may disappear for a while and then reappear. Certain things may trigger the onset of symptoms. Things such as stress, injuries, medications, alcohol, infection, and other factors can make the symptoms of psoriasis worse. Some of the symptoms are:
- red skin raised and swollen
- of whitish silver flakes in the affected areas
- dry skin that cracks and bleeds
- Itching and burning sensation of the skin.
- painful and swollen joints (especially psoriatic arthritis)
Diagnosing psoriasis is relatively easy, and most doctors can recognize the symptoms quickly. A biopsy of a skin sample provides a deeper look. This can be done to determine what type of psoriasis is present. Because of the limited knowledge of the cause of psoriasis, there is unfortunately no cure.
Treatment options for psoriasis
There are many treatment options for psoriasis. There are several creams and topicals, both steroidal and non-steroidal. These can be applied directly to the affected areas, providing rapid relief. Therapy involving exposure to UV light has also proven to be effective. However, this requires many repeated sessions and long-term light treatment can potentially cause larger problems. If these options do not work, then there are systemic medications that can be taken to affect the entire body. These are very powerful, but some people will experience severe side effects. Some doctors suggest a change in diet as well, as there are certain trigger foods that can cause symptoms.
Could CBD help with psoriasis?
Perhaps the best known quality of CBD is that it is an anti-inflammatory. It is able to inhibit the inflammatory immune response through its interaction with different cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. There are several links between regulation of the endocannabinoid system and the maintenance of a healthy immune system. There are some studies that show promise for using CBD to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis. A 2007 study found that CBD was able to decrease the production of certain skin cells.
Other cannabinoids such as THC, which were also able to inhibit the overproduction of skin cells, were also examined. This gives some hope and provides the basis for further research. A smaller but more recent study examined the effect of CBD-enriched topical creams for inflammatory skin diseases. The subjects had psoriasis, dermatitis, or scarring as a result of a skin condition. They were asked to apply the CBD-enriched ointment directly to the affected areas twice a day for 3 months. All subjects reported an improvement in their symptoms. In addition, no allergic reactions or negative side effects were reported.
Aside from scientific research, there is a mountain of anecdotal evidence that CBD can provide relief for some symptoms of psoriasis. As with anything, it may not work for everyone. CBD should be used to support homeostasis and maintain a healthy immune system. It is not a cure, nor is it a medicine, but it can provide relief from many physical and emotional problems. Medical research is limited because of its cost, but what has been found so far is very promising. In addition, the anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of cannabinoids such as CBD is overwhelming. If you're thinking of trying it, it's always best to do as much research as possible, and seek your doctor's advice.
- Unknown (2017). Does light therapy (phototherapy) help reduce psoriasis symptoms?. [online] NCBI. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK435696/ [Accessed 22 Jan. 2020].
- Wilkinson, J. and Williamson, E. (2007). Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of ps… – PubMed – NCBI. [online] NCBI. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17157480 [Accessed 21 Jan. 2020].
- Palmieri, B., Laurino, C. and Vadalà, M. (2019). A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] NCBI. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30993303/ [Accessed 21 Jan. 2020].